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Leonardo DiCaprio will serve as the global ambassador for the International Fund For Animal Welfare’s (IFAW) Animal Action campaign to shut down the international ivory trade and save the elephants.

IFAW, founded in 1969, has projects in more than 40 countries and helps to save animals in crisis around the world. “IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats.”

The Animal Action campaign highlights a different animal and conservation each year and this year’s theme is “‘Elephants, Never Forget,’ and focuses on the crisis that elephants face 20 years after the international ivory trade ban was put in place.”

“The ivory trade fuels conflict and strife,” said DiCaprio. “Elephants are killed by poachers so their tusks can be traded for weapons and drugs by international criminal organizations before becoming trinkets and jewelry for consumers. Authorities in 85 countries have seized almost 400 tons of ivory on the black market since the 1989 ivory trade ban.”

Due to the lackadaisical enforcement of the ban several species are facing the prospect of extinction in several African countries, and “the number of elephants in the wild has declined by a staggering 50 percent” over the course of the last century due to poaching by international syndicates.

“Many people around the world still have no idea that elephants are killed for their ivory tusks, and that’s why public education is so important,” DiCaprio added. “There were 1.3 million elephants in 1979; rampant poaching and other factors have reduced that by more than half, to an estimated 500,000.”

“We are honored to have Leonardo’s support for our Animal Action campaign to stem the ivory trade,” said IFAW President and CEO Fred O’Regan. “With his help, we hope to create a groundswell for elephant protection that can’t be ignored.”

Read more at Look to the Stars.


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